Experiencing panic is relatively normal, as pretty much everyone at some point in his or her lives will have a reason to panic. Even though no one ever wants to feel this way, it’s simply just a part of life. And, for most individuals, panic is not something that is part of their everyday lives, nor is it something that they experience very often at all. However, some people do not have it as simple.
Approximately 4.7% of American adults ages 18 and older experience panic disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI). Panic disorder is a condition where an individual can experience crippling fear and anxiety that occurs for no reasonable cause. This disorder, classified as one of the many types of known anxiety disorders, has negatively impacted the lives of several people across the country in ways that have caused them to struggle to carry out everyday functions.
3 Types Of Panic Attacks
Not all people who have panic disorders experience the same types of panic, as there is more than just one type. While the symptoms associated with each type of panic attack are similar, the causes behind the panic attack are not. For that reason, panic attacks are separated into three different types: unexpected (uncued) panic attacks, situational (cued) panic attacks, and situationally predisposed panic attacks.
1. Unexpected (Uncued) Panic Attacks
An unexpected panic attack seemingly occurs out of thin air, as there is truly no other internal or external cause for its rapid development. For example, someone who is experiencing an unexpected panic attack will suddenly go into a full-on state of panic for absolutely no reason. In fact, he or she might not even be doing anything or around anyone or anything that could possibly insight a panic response. These panic attacks can easily cause someone to feel hot, experience a rapid heart rate, and even feel the physical need to remove themselves from an area. Unexpected panic attacks are never able to be predicted and can happen at any time and in any environment.
2. Situational (Cued) Panic Attacks
Situational panic attacks are typically much more predictable than unexpected panic attacks, as they tend to occur when someone is exposed to something that knowingly insights panic in them. This type of panic attack is common in those who struggle with social phobia, which is a specific kind of anxiety disorder. So, when someone has social phobia and is knowingly going into a public setting such as a work meeting, family gathering, or even a birthday party, he or she can have a panic attack. And, being aware that having a panic attack is a possibility can make the odds of actually experiencing one much more likely, as the anxiety surrounding knowing what could happen can be extremely overwhelming.
3. Situationally Predisposed Panic Attacks
Situationally predisposed panic attacks are a little more tricky than others, as they will not always happen immediately upon being triggered, but instead, after the fact. And, in some instances, the individual can be exposed to the triggering event and then not have a panic attack at all. The variation of whether or not a panic attack will occur is what makes this kind of panic attack a bit more complex. An example of a situationally predisposed panic attack is when flying is a triggering event, but the individual does not panic while on the plane, but rather after he or she has landed and/or gotten off the plane.
Symptoms Of Panic Disorders
Panic disorders cause several different physical and psychological symptoms that can truly interrupt and disturb one’s wellbeing. According to the (NCBI), an individual must experience four of the following symptoms suddenly and hit a peak around 10 minutes:
- Chills or hot flashes
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Fear of dying
- Trembling or shaking
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Feeling of choking
- Nausea or abdominal discomfort
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
When someone is experiencing a panic attack, he or she typically feels the need to flee for fear of unrealistic thoughts of impending doom. An individual can also feel as though they are dying or in extreme danger when in reality, neither of those things is occurring. These are just some examples of common feelings associated with panic attacks, as there are several different emotions that can be produced through this specific type of anxiety disorder.
How Do I Know If I Am At Risk For A Panic Disorder?
As previously mentioned, everyone will experience panic in his or her lives. However, some people might be somewhere in between not having panic attacks and having them consistently. Those individuals should consider a handful of different factors as they move along in their lives. Some of these factors can include the following:
- Family history of panic attacks
- Major life stress (such as a loved one being terminally ill)
- Traumatic events
- Significant life changes
- Excessive caffeine use
- A history of childhood physical or sexual abuse
Many people develop panic disorders in their lives due to the fact that they have experienced several different upsetting life events. Others might develop a panic disorder for no apparent reason, as sometimes, brain chemistry is simply just off. However, no matter the reason for the development of a panic disorder, it is important to know that this condition is treatable and can be effectively managed so that it does not consume one’s life.
Treatment For Panic Disorders
The tried-and-true method of incorporating both therapy and medication is often the most successful way to treat someone who is experiencing panic disorder. Psychotherapy is often the starting line for someone who is ready to get treatment for a panic disorder, because there, he or she can begin learning about panic disorder, how and why it occurs, and how it relates to his or her personal life. In conjunction with consistent psychotherapy sessions, individuals might also receive a prescription for medications like Ativan or Xanax that can help them better manage their panic attacks. When taken as prescribed and included in a comprehensive treatment plan, these medications can help individuals regain control over their panic attacks, and in turn, their lives.
If you are struggling with panic disorders, you are not alone. Getting help is the very best thing you can do for yourself, and there is absolutely no shame in it. To get started on your very own treatment, contact us right now at 866-300-6955. We can help.